After years of work behind the scenes, officials say Orangeburg could see growth in its retail, restaurant and entertainment sectors.
"In 2018, the retail landscape in Orangeburg is definitely going to change,” said Randy Etters, chairman of The One Orangeburg County Initiative’s commercial, retail and housing task force.
Etters provided members of The One Orangeburg County leadership team with an update last month. The One Orangeburg County initiative works to make the county an even better place to live, work and play.
The county hired consulting firm Gruber Phillips two years ago to help identify retail, restaurant and entertainment businesses that might be a good fit for the community. The work was done with the support of Orangeburg’s Department of Public Utilities.
After looking at hundreds upon hundreds of retailers, Gruber Phillips has narrowed down the potential list to about 65, Etters said.
The list of retailers is divided into 20 different categories including family apparel, special apparel, gift stores, department stores, entertainment outlets and restaurants.
Examples include Burlington Coat Factory, Lane Bryant, Christopher & Banks, Things Remembered, Home Goods, Fun Factory, Monkey Joe's, Firehouse Subs, Smashburger, Dunkin Donuts, McAlister's Deli, Panera Bread and Golden Corral.
Etters noted the companies have expressed an interest in expanding their Southern footprint. That does not mean the stores are definitely in line to come to Orangeburg.
"We would like to have success with everyone we submit proposals to, but the reality is that is not going to happen," Etters said. "We are going to focus on having success in at least one entity from each category."
"With the restaurant category, we would be unhappy with only one," he said.
He said the goal is to have retailers conduct site visits in the coming year.
Etters said companies are not aware of the Orangeburg area’s size.
"If they pull up a census of Orangeburg, they see a city of 13,000," Etters said. "What they don't know is that if they go to a 10-mile radius, they are looking at 90,000."
Retailers are “blown away” when they see traffic numbers on corridors such as U.S. 601, U.S. 301, North Road and Chestnut Street, Etters said.
Century 21 The Moore Group President Marion Moore says property on North Road, adjacent to the Walmart, has attracted some interest. Century 21 The Moore Group is partnering with C.F. Evans Construction to develop the 62-acre tract.
"We are at the point where we are clearing the land and shaping it and getting ready to run all the utilities to make the land attractive," Moore said. "We are in the final process of getting our marketing materials together and will really go to market after the first of the year, targeting various food and other retailers."
Moore said the possibility of a movie theater, “is still very much in play.”
Residential areas remain in the plans, although Moore said this would most likely come after commercial development.
Moore said the property has seen some definite interest.
"With the economy the way it is, we feel good about it," he said.